Measles and Other Childhood Diseases

The so-called childhood diseases of measles, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, and diphtheria are responsible for several hundred thousand deaths per year. Fortunately, all of these diseases are preventable through inexpensive vaccines. Typically a child will receive one vaccine for measles and one vaccine for the other three diseases combined.

Very recently, there has been great success with measles vaccinations. Between 2001 and 2008, the Measles Initiative, an international partnership backed by a number of organizations and individuals, vaccinated some 700 million children in poor countries. This cut the number of measles deaths by approximately three-quarters.

At a cost of less than $1 per measles vaccination, this program shows how a relatively small amount of funding can make a huge difference in lives saved. There is no reason that this type of program cannot be extended to vaccinate all of the children who need it, provided enough funding is available.

Sources: UNICEF, American Red Cross, World Health Organization (WHO).

Note: The map display above is representational only and does not show the names and faces of real people. The photographs are computer composites of multiple individuals.